Basil "Smitty" Smith - MacNamara's Band

Title

Basil "Smitty" Smith - MacNamara's Band

Subject

Northern / Singing

Description

Basil "Smitty" Smith calling with the Bills' Band at a barn dance in West Wardsboro, Vermont, recorded by Steve Green

MacNamara’s Band
Irish song popularized by Bing Crosby

Oh the head two couples separate, go halfway round outside
The side two couples go right and left, to the other side
Swing that lady right where you meet her, you sing her on the sly
Everybody swing your lady, swing ’em high and dry

Now you do-si-do with your corners, you do-si-do your own
But don’t forget to swing the lady right across the room
Oh you swing that opposite lady, gents, but don’t you be afraid
To take the lady on your left and all promenade

You promenade around the outside
Promenade her once around and back to place

Sequence: Intro; figure twice for heads; figure twice for sides.

A transcription of other calls in Smitty's repertoire can be found in the Syllabus (pp. 36–40) from the 2004 Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend. Vermont caller and fiddler Fred Breunig led a "Singing Squares by Smith & Glabach" workshop featuring material he had learned from these two callers in the Brattleboro area in southeastern Vermont.

(Callers might enjoy comparing Smitty's version with that of New Hampshire caller Frank Fortune, recorded live in 1955 and available online here.)

Fred's biographical note about Smitty from the RPDLW Syllabus follows:

“Basil (Smitty) Smith was born in Brattleboro, Vermont but lived in the area around Greenfield, Massachusetts most of his life (in Gill, MA when I met him in the late 70s). He started calling in the late 30s/early 40s mostly in western Massachusetts, but also in southern Vermont. He had a story about calling in Pierce’s Hall that told the origin of his standard phrase before a dance began: “Sets in order, partners in your places, he-e-ere we WENT!” He said that he used to say “ ... he-e-ere we GO!” but that night there was a kid who was sitting on the stage yelling GO every time he said that. It irked him a little, so just to throw the little guy off, he started saying WENT and then kept on using that from then on.

“He usually hired just a melody instrument, guitar and drums and called himself, “Smitty and his Little Band.” He had emphysema when I met him and was only calling when the Bills of Wardsboro, Vermont would hire him. It was a family band. The son (probably in his 30s) played trumpet, the daughter played electric organ, a cousin was on guitar and the dad (in his 60s) on drums. The sequence of the evening was always 3 round dances, 3 squares, 3 round dances, 3 squares. Only very occasionally a Boston Fancy (Sicilian circle). Round dances included mostly foxtrots, but also the Mexican Hat dance, Hokey Pokey, and even the Bunny Hop sometimes. Once after a foxtrot, I asked if they ever did any waltzes and the trumpet player said, “We just did one!”

“I once asked Smitty if he ever called any of the “old contras” (like Hull’s Victory or Chorus Jig). “No,” he said, “the band doesn’t know the tunes.” Later, after Smitty’s death, I was told by the band that they knew all those old tunes, but Smitty didn’t know the calls.”

The introduction to these squares rarely changes. It’s: “Honor to your partner; salute your corners all. Join your hands in one big ring and circle round the hall.” Once home, there is a swing and, if time allows, a promenade. The dances also invariably end with a “shave and a haircut” tag.

Creator

Smitty Smith

Date Created

June 30, 1979

Contributor

Steve Green

Spatial Coverage

USA, Vermont, West Wardsboro

Temporal Coverage

1970s

Item Relations

This item has no relations.